Inaniwa Yosuke Udon, one of the 16 concepts at Japan Food Town, has a long history. We were invited for a tasting but we chose to go anonymously and pay on our own for a truthful review.
Inaniwa-styled udon is different from the thick udon we are familiar with; it is thin like mee sua. The udon was first created in 1665 in Inaniwa village in the Akita Prefecture by the Yosuke family. And the Japanese mee sua became famous when it was presented to the royal family as a gift.
It is unclear whether this restaurant has any ties with the Yosuke family or the village, but it was named after them, and was established in 1860.
The making of the udon takes 3 days as the process is entirely manual. I quote from the menu: “After kneading the dough by hand, it is wrapped around two rods, flattened, stretched, and air-dried.” The udon, like the chef, is made in Akita and imported to Singapore.
The restaurant left a very deep and excellent impression on us. The cozy restaurant and the mundane corridor of Japan Food Town differ very much; When you step inside the restaurant, it is as if you’re transported to a place of class and comfort. Dark wood, warm light, open kitchen, and two gigantic paper lanterns as focal point. Lovely.
When we asked for recommendation, a server in his 50s was very patient and highlighted the signatures. We looked through the menu for a while, and decided that we should order only one set, the set that has everything ($32++), and hop onto another restaurant to try more food. When we just ordered one set, the young boy asked us politely, “Do you want some drinks?”
“No, we will get it somewhere else.”
And then he said something totally unexpected, “Ok. May I get you some water? Iced or warm?”
Wow! This was amazing service. He did not turn up his nose when we only ordered a set. And he even, on his own accord, offered to bring us water. A down-to-earth server with initiative. Give him a pay raise! Employ him for life!
When the food came, we were blown away. Let’s start with the hot udon. The broth is amazing. Even the hard-to-please tiger-dad-in-the-making Mr Fitness said it has WOW factor. Getting approval from Mr Fitness is like getting approval from Angelina Jolie; she didn’t even approve one of the hottest man in the world.
The broth is shockingly delicious. It has waves of flavors: first, you’ll taste a strong ginger, which gives way to the depth and integrity of a robust wine-like bonito, mellowing to an intense smokiness.
The udon soaked in hot broth is, understandably, not as firm as the cold udon. The cold udon’s texture is fantastic, springy, and clean. The sesame dip is slightly sweet, and less salty, and less thick than usual Japanese sesame sauce, but it is very aromatic, and I like it better, because it means I can finish it without feeling it’s too much.
The tempura is also excellent. It doesn’t use much salt, so some people may find the flavors muted. But we like it precisely because there is less salt. They allow the freshness and the taste of the food to speak for itself. And that’s pretty damn good.
On the whole, this is an excellent experience. Will definitely return. We paid $38 for a set, which is pretty expensive, but there is a bowl of plain udon which starts at $13.
Inaniwa Yosuke @ Japan Food Town
435 Orchard Road, Wisma Atria #04-45 Singapore 238877
T: +65 6262 3279
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.